Opposite: The incredible caves dotting the East Yorkshire Coast. This page clockwise from top left: Puffin at Bempton Cliffs. Cayton Bay, surfing capital of the Yorkshire Coast. Whitby Abbey. Rockpooling near Flamborough.
THE ROUTE MAKES THE S P I R I TS S OA R H I G H E R T H A N A N Y C L I F F TO P A L O N G T H E WAY.
A circuit of this utterly captivating place poised between the sea and the River Humber, where the beach shape-shifts constantly like a restless sleeper trying to get comfortable, is just one of the shorter walks that the path breaks down into. Others explore the coast’s wildlife and heritage. Walking from Bempton to Flamborough Head in spring or early summer is to be in the midst of one of Britain’s greatest natural spectaculars – half a million seabirds nesting on the cliffs and soaring on the air currents at your eye level as they head out of their nests in search of food. There are gannets, guillemots, razorbills and fulmars, but the stars of the show are puffins, with their colourful bills, clockwork-toy flight and guttural call. All are easily visible, especially from the viewpoints at the RSPB’s Bempton Cliffs reserve. Walking from Staithes to Runswick Bay or from Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay is to step back 300 years to an age when smugglers sailed darkened ships into lonely coves to land contraband. Robin Hood’s Bay was their prime destination because it knew how to keep a secret. The closely packed cottages that make it so enthralling and picturesque were once riddled with interlinked secret passages, enabling smugglers to pass their wares from the seashore to the top of the village without them ever seeing the light of day. Or simply wander from Scarborough to Cayton Bay for the breathtaking views back across the town from the clifftop. But whether out for a stroll, or exploring everything Yorkshire’s coast has to offer, walking it makes the spirits soar higher than any clifftop along the way. Yorkshire Coast Path by Andrew Vine (above), is published by Safe Haven Books. Go to yorkshire.com/yorkshirecoastpath